I just sent an email along the following lines to several of the council election candidates in my ward (Edinburgh: Sighthill/Gorgie). When I receive replies I’ll post these as comments below.
I am considering voting for you in the council elections, but I have decided that, in order to get my vote, candidates in the 2022 elections will have to make these pledges:
(1) Promise to campaign for the Lothian Pension Fund to divest from fossil fuels. You can see from this website – https://www.divest.org.uk/councils/ – that it still has £165m invested in them. In this day and age, when we know so much about the devastating consequences of climate meltdown, the ‘constructive engagement’ and ‘fiduciary duty’ arguments are surely no longer tenable. (Indeed, given the likely dire consequences for everyone of ongoing fossil fuel combustion, surely ‘fiduciary duty’, properly understood, should oblige funds to divest from fossil fuels?)
In the square brackets is a bit I added to my email to the Green Party candidate: [I know that you are aware of this, as your party’s manifesto does indeed state: ‘Prevent indirect impacts of council business, including the Lothian Pension Fund, on the climate by divesting from fossil fuels and carrying out a climate assessment of council procurement’. However,] I would further like you to promise to opt out of the Lothian Pension Fund scheme if you cannot persuade it to divest within a year of your election. (There are good ethical pensions advisers out there and, having used one, my own experience is that one can get very decent returns from ethical investments.)
(2) Promise to support Edinburgh’s twinning with Gaza. Israel and its allies are desperate to keep the ongoing horrors of the Israeli state’s human rights abuses from public awareness, and so will try every trick in the book to prevent this, not least making accusations of anti-Semitism. However, there are many Jewish organisations and individuals opposed to Israel’s violations. I have found this Jewish website to be an excellent source of information on Israeli settler-colonialism: https://www.jewishvoiceforpeace.org/. You might find it a useful reference when arguing for twinning with Gaza, and I suggest you take a few minutes to explore it.
I look forward to your response, and hope to be able to vote for you.